An article by RNSW Sports Journalism Scholarship holder Annie Murphy
Lake Macquarie Rowing Club (LMRC), located at Booragul on the shores of Lake Macquarie, has demonstrated its commitment to the community by its recent participation in a “Withdrawal Fitness Program” run by Lake Macquarie High School. The aim of the program is to remove a group of year eight students from the classroom environment and immerse them in an exploratory sports program where they spend one day a week participating in different sports around Newcastle.
Rowing has been a key component of this program. Richard McMahon, a teacher at Lake Macquarie High School for seven years, initiated this program in 2011. Mr McMahon recruited the services of Natalie Meisenhelter, a casual PDHPE teacher and member of the Lake Macquarie Rowing Club, to manage the rowing element of the Withdrawal Fitness Program, assisted by members of the club when required.
The program was conducted over four weeks, providing an opportunity for the students to develop fitness, coordination, co-operation, and create a more energetic learning space than the desks and chairs of the classroom.
“Rowing is a great tool to build teamwork,” Mr McMahon said.
"They have been very receptive... Natalie was fantastic, and the students have never had an opportunity to do this sort of thing before." He went on to further describe the student's surprise at their first rowing lessons, and how difficult they found rowing technique. “They assumed they could get in a boat and go for it,” he said. “They learnt that there is a lot more involved."
Rowing was described by the students as “difficult until you get used to it," “quite hard,” and “challenging." But despite this, they loved “the speed you get from rowing,” they enjoyed “building up strength," and "learning the technique involved”. The students appreciated the time away from school, being able to try something new, and spending time outdoors with fellow students. Ian Krix, President of Lake Macquarie Rowing Club, commended Lake Macquaire High School.
"Their commitment to Natalie and our club was significant by providing two excellent supporting teachers (Richard and Greg) – neither of whom had rowed before but were always on hand assisting with both equipment and the children, and even had a go themselves!"
Although the school does not offer rowing as a sport, Mr McMahon said he would like to see the students participate in rowing more through the future, pointing out the excellent fitness benefits of the sport.
Read more about the RNSW Sports Journalism Scholarship here